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Feb. 11 2010 - 4:13 pm | 106 views | 0 recommendations | 0 comments

Valentine’s on the Cheap. Chicago’s Free Dance Lessons and Other February Deals

MayIHaveThisDance3In case you’ve forgotten, this Sunday is Valentine’s Day.

Commercially manufactured or not, it’s always fun to indulge.  That doesn’t mean breaking the budget, especially if you live in Chicago.

Despite the recent cutbacks from CTA bus routes to my personal favorite, the summer-based Movies in the Park, you can still find a few free (or nearly free) things to do in Chitown, especially in February.


Because the rest of the world doesn’t like to visit Chicago in February. (Really, I never would have guessed?) So Chicago’s Office of Tourism is trying to fill hotel rooms and restaurants by offering a wide selection of fun things to do for free to attract visitors this month. 

“Chicago is a year-round destination and a great place any time of year,”  Chicago Office of Tourism Director Dorothy Coyle says. “By doing this we are able to get people excited and interested in coming to Chicago. February is a particularly strategic time, it’s a need period for hospitality so we can offer very special deals.”

Which means, as Chicagoans, we also win.

The Art Institute of Chicago and Chicago Field Museum have has free general admission all month. The Museum of Science and Industry’s  is giving a little lovin’ to fans with free admission on Vday (February 14). The Shedd Aquarium is free on Monday, February 22 and Tuesday, February 23. Adler Planetarium is free on two Tuesdays; February 16 and 23.  Head to Michigan Avenue, where there are free fireworks 6:30 p.m. every Saturday in February. Take the kids You can find a cheap hotel since many are slashing prices. (The Hard Rock Hotel is offering rates starting at $90 a night through March 31 or go to chic luxury boutique theWit for rates starting at $179.)

Chicago is also hosting it’s first Winter Dance this year. For those who love SummerDance (myself included) you’ll love this new winter version.  Every Saturday and Sunday in February learn to tango, swing, two-step, and more for free. Dance under the heated lights of the Pritzker Pravilion in Millennium Park.

What many don’t realize is that the stage has retractable glass doors which means the cold stays out and you stay warm.  Plus, I’m told you get a spectacular view of the city looking out from the stage.

Lessons will be held in two shifts every Saturday and Sunday. Show up early if you want an hour-long dance lesson taught by a professional instructor. Then it’s open dancing for a few hours.

Here’s the line-up for Chicago Winter Dance.

Dance Schedule  

Session I: Lessons 1 – 2 pm; Open dancing 2 – 4 pm
Session II: Lessons 5 – 6 pm; Open dancing 6 – 8 pm

Saturday, February 13: Honky Tonk Two Step 
Instructors: The Galaxie 
Live music: The Hoyle Brothers 

Sunday, February 14: Tango 
Instructors: Tango 21, Inc.
Live music: Tangata
Saturday, February 20: Swing 
Instructors: May I Have This Dance
Live music: Thomas Gunther Trio

Sunday, February 21: Ethnic Dances from Around the World
Instructors: Ethnic Dance Chicago

Saturday, February 27: Steppin’
Instructors: The Majestic Gents

Sunday, February 28: Ballroom 
Instructors: Chicago Dance Latin & Ballroom School

* (Doors open 30 minutes before the start of each lesson and no reservations are required but it is recommended you come early since .)

Or head to the McCormick Tribune Ice Rink for some ice dancing from 7-11 p.m. on Fridays and Saturdays with Demonstrations at 7, 8:30 and 10 p.m. Each night there’s a different theme.

• Friday, February 12: Show Tunes
• Saturday, February 13: Love Songs
• Friday, February 19: Disco
• Saturday, February 20: Country Western
• Friday, February 26: Twilight
• Saturday, February 27: Big Band Jazz/1920s

For more ideas on things to do this weekend, check out Metromix’s Valentine’s Guide and Time Out’ Chicago’s picks.


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    I'm a Chicago-based journalist. I'm known for my quirky, off-beat features, but I've covered everything from the NFL to eating crickets in Cambodia to Chicago's best websites to celebrity profiles of the likes of Maya Angelou and Magic Johnson. My work has appeared in 25+outlets including: Travel + Leisure, Chicago Tribune, Chicago magazine, American Way magazine, CNN.com, MSN.com, Restaurants & Institutions and Boys' Life. I'm the immediate past president of the Chicago Headline Club, the largest Society of Professional Journalists chapter in the country and a former St. Petersburg Times and Dallas Morning News staff writer. My co-authored book, Armchair Reader: Chicago, about quirky, off-beat things in the Windy City, was just released this month. Twitter @dawnreiss Email me dreiss100 AT gmail DOT com (In case you were wondering, my name is pronounced R-I-C-E (Think Weiss with an R, not Reese.))

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